According to The Times, Manchester United manager David Moyes will be supported to the tune of £100m this summer as the Red Devils’ pursuit of Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas and Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale heralds a new era at Old Trafford.
Following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, the Glazers are “eager to underline their support” for Moyes in order to prolong the incredibly successful franchise. Whilst the transfer values are speculative (and Real may have already beaten United to Bale), there is no denying that an audacious £100m swoop of two exceptional talents will effectively be viewed as an Abramovich or a Sheikh Mansour move.
The dynamics of the Beautiful Game has shifted considerably during the last 10-15 years. Ever since Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich rocked into London town throwing his money around like confetti, numerous European football clubs have been purchased by über-rich owners.
In order to meet their objectives with haste, these new proprietors have ideologies of instant success through a means of limitless funds. Unquestionably both Chelsea and Manchester City changed the landscape of British football with the aforementioned duo joined only by Real Madrid in accumulating a 10-year net transfer deficit of over half a billion pounds each.
Lavish spending by Real Madrid, the world’s most glamorous club, was no big deal. After all when they experienced hard times during the late 1990s, the local government bought their training centre in a dubious half-cash, half-land sale. Public land, which had been valued at €421K, was then re-valued to €23m—and Los Blancos pocketed all the compensation. Friends in high places indeed.
With regards to Chelsea and City, their overnight success stories resulted in understandable jealousy. Noses were put out of joint culminating in Jose Mourinho comically labelling Arsene Wenger, a “voyeur”.
UEFA introduced the Financial Fair Play rules after it became concerned with the clubs’ apparent care-free attitude. Furthermore by witnessing the demise of clubs who failed in their attempts to replicate this high-risk business model, such as Malaga, regulation became a top agenda item.
Manchester City came out swinging. A mythical gazillion pound sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways was their solution but the club failed to consider that the authorities may join the dots, in that the owners of both football club and airline were related.
Furthermore, then-City assistant coach David Platt vigorously defended his club’s expenditure in the wake of Harry Redknapp’s proud boast that his also-then Spurs side were third in the table through merit and not “because someone has walked through the door at White Hart Lane and slapped a bundle of money on my desk”.
Platt justified City’s excessive expenditure, “Top teams buy top players. If you have the resources to go and eat at the top table, and you can do it in a two-year spend rather than a 10-year spend, it gets you there quicker.”
Few agreed and even Ferguson had his say—“We are not like other clubs who can spend fortunes on proven goods.” Desirable comments but if the recent speculation transpires into reality, the Old Trafford hierarchy will have embraced City and Chelsea’s philosophy this summer.
Never before has the Premier League witnessed a £100m spending spree on just two players. Unsurprisingly City were close during the 2010/11 season where they acquired Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, David Silva and Yaya Toure for £109m and Chelsea managed £96m during the same period on Fernando Torres, Ramires and David Luiz.
Liverpool fans aside, many neutrals sided with United in the past in battling for the league title—believing it was for the good of the game keeping the gleaming Premier League trophy away from the clutches of the sugar daddies. Despite setting numerous transfer records during the past 20 years, the Red Devils have been relatively prudent compared to their peers, particularly given that their 10-year transfer deficit is smaller than the likes of Liverpool and Spurs.
The real question for United is whether this is really a statement of intent or are the Glazers genuinely concerned that United’s aura has disappeared along with Ferguson?